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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/19156

Title: Fantasy of Empire: Ri Kōran, Subject Positioning and the Cinematic Contruction of Space
Authors: Nagayama, Chikako
Advisor: Dehli, Kari
Department: Sociology and Equity Studies in Education
Keywords: Cinema Studies
East Asian History
Women's Studies
Cultural Studies
race and ethnicity
imperialism
colonialism
modernity
diaspora studies
melodrama
wartime films
Yamaguchi Yoshiko
Li Xianglan
domesticity
gender and sexuality
hygiene
subject positioning
Japan
China
Manchuria
otherness
family
hybridity
mobility
the gaze
film space
Issue Date: 25-Feb-2010
Abstract: This thesis emerged from my emotional, tactile, and intellectual access to the actress, Yamaguchi Yoshiko (a.k.a. Ri Kōran or Li Xianglan), who embodied the cultural hybridity of Manchuria and represented a ‘modern girl’ on screen. I analyze four wartime melodrama-adventure films, in which she co-starred with Japanese actors: Song of the White Orchid (Byakuran no uta, 1939), China Nights (Shina no Yoru, 1940), Vow in the Desert (Nessa no chikai, 1940), and Suzhou Nights (Soshū no yoru, 1941). The formation of domesticity played an integral part in the making of modern nation-states. Intertexualizing with the discursive formation of the ie (house/family) between the mid 19th and mid 20th centuries, I first demonstrate that Japanese film subjects are made to embody the imagined Imperial nation through gendered performances in Song of the White Orchid. The interior and exterior are constructed to mirror the notion of imperial nation and the Asian ‘other’. Next, I extend the analytical framework to the three films, China Nights, Vow in the Desert, and Suzhou Nights, which employ films’ specific locations for different operations of gendered and ethnicized positioning. I also pay attention to some of the climaxes, which unconventionally present psychological dramas outdoors and action scenes indoors. Especially, my interest in this part of analysis is in interrelating metaphors of bodily boundary and national border. As delineating the signification of body and nation, I situate the relay of the gaze in the simultaneous blurring of bodily boundary and national communities that coincides with melodramatic highlights located outdoors. In order to shape a Japanese imperial subject, the films symbolically negotiate with three levels of power dynamics: the establishment of a national identity, the mimicry of the West, and the significance of China in Japanese imperial modernity. The delineation of cinematic space and subject positioning in Ri Kōran’s films reveals that Chinese, Japanese and the West are constituted as shifting positions that respectively represent past/obstructions, present/a mobile agency, and future/the envisioned goal. Ri Kōran attracts spectators’ gaze and mediates multiple locations to identify with, while Japanese male protagonists embody the gaze by making his corporeality absent.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/19156
Appears in Collections:Doctoral
Department of Sociology and Equity Studies in Education - Doctoral theses

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